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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• O’NEILL SURGES IN RACE FOR SANTA ANITA TRAINING CROWN
• PINO RECEIVES SANTA ANITA’S GEORGE WOOLF AWARD SUNDAY
• STEADY MAKER OR BREAKER SET FOR SUNDAY’S SANTA LUCIA
• STUTE: NINE IS ENOUGH FOR WORKAHOLIC WORLD RENOWNED
TRAINERS’ RACE TIGHTENS AS MEET DRAWS TO A CLOSE
On Feb. 18, Doug O’Neill was stuck on 13 wins. Over the next 33 racing days, he won 20 races, giving him 33 through Friday and putting him in a tie for second with Jerry Hollendorfer, five behind leader Bob Baffert, who is in pursuit of his record 11th Santa Anita title.
O’Neill, whose main focus at the moment is on leading Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents to the Kentucky Derby on May 4, won the training crown at The Great Place three straight meets from 2004-05 through 2006-07, setting the record in the latter campaign with 56 wins. He won 54 races in 2004-05 and 50 in 2005-06.
O’Neill had sent out 237 starters through Friday, 38 more than runner-up John Sadler, and attributed his surge in part to sheer volume.
“It’s bound to happen when you run as many horses as we do,” O’Neill said between training chores on an overcast Saturday morning. “I think it’s a credit to the owners who let us place their horses in aggressive spots, and our crew doing a heckuva job. It’s good that we kind of got things rolling finally.”
O’Neill added that Goldencents, who vaulted among the top Kentucky Derby contenders with his authoritative Santa Anita Derby win on April 6, “galloped like a champ today.
“He’ll work here next Wednesday and again eight days later, then ship to Kentucky seven days out.”
PINO TO RECEIVE SANTA ANITA’S GEORGE WOOLF AWARD SUNDAY
Mario Pino, winner of the 2013 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, will accept the award in a winner’s circle ceremony between races Sunday at Santa Anita.
Pino, Maryland’s all-time leading jockey who recently moved with his wife, Christina, and three daughters to Florida, is also 10th on racing’s all-time win list with nearly 6,500 winners.
In a vote of jockeys nationwide, Pino outpolled fellow riders Javier Castellano, Perry Compton, David Flores and Rodney Prescott. Initiated by Santa Anita in 1950, the Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
Pino, 51, garnered national acclaim as the regular rider of top-tier 3-year-old Hard Spun in 2007, guiding him to a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and to victories in the Grade I King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade II Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. He would go on to ride the Larry Jones trainee to a runner-up finish behind eventual Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park.
The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize legendary jockey George “The Iceman” Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big money riders of his era. He died following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946. The trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
MAKER OR BREAKER RETURNS IN SUNDAY’S SANTA LUCIA
Maker Or Breaker starts for the first time in more than three months when she runs in Sunday’s $70,000 Santa Lucia Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
Owned by Hal and Patti Earnhardt and trained by Bob Baffert, the daughter of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker out of the Flying Chevron dam Shameful has been heavily favored in her four starts, winning three, the last at 20 cents to the dollar in a 3 ¾-length romp at one mile Dec. 30 at Santa Anita.
“It was a little of this, a little of that,” Baffert said in explaining her absence. “She’s a big, tall filly and a half-sister to Indian Blessing.” The field for the Santa Lucia, which goes as the third of nine races: Sister Kate, Corey Nakatani, 4-1 Candrea, David Flores, 5-1; Sister Glady Oh La, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Maker Or Breaker, Martin Garcia, 8-5; and Egg Drop, Garrett Gomez, 9-5.
BREAKING NEWS: WORLD RENOWNED PASSES A RACE
Gary Stute sits at the same table with Barry Abrams at Clockers’ Corner every morning. Something must be rubbing off.
Stute was scheduled to send out World Renowned for his tenth start this meet in today’s third race, but scratched the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy. Discretion was the better part of valor, or perhaps the rail was the worst part of running.
“I just didn’t like the inside post,” Stute said, referring to the one hole in the 6 ½ furlong race for $25,000 claiming horses. “When I run him back quick if it’s an easy race, it’s OK, but being on the inside with all that speed, he’d have to run the whole way. If he had been on the outside it would have been easier.”
World Renowned, owned by Stute and Mike Cavanaugh, made his first start this meet way back on Dec. 26. Since, he has run on Jan. 17 and 21; Feb. 15 and 28; March 10, 21 and 31, and April 7, winning his last two.
FINISH LINES: Obviously, third to Horse of the Year Wise Dan in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Saturday in 48.40 from the gate for trainer Mike Mitchell, who is getting the Irish-bred gelding ready for next Saturday’s Grade III San Simeon Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. Regular rider Joe Talamo will be back aboard . . . With two wins Friday, Talamo moved within three of Garrett Gomez, who joins several of his Santa Anita peers in out-of-town riding assignments today . . . Correction to an item in yesterday’s Notes: Charlie Whittingham did not train Quicken Tree, who dead-heated with Fiddle Isle in the 1970 San Juan Capistrano. Quicken Tree was trained by W.T. Canney.